On February 26, 2021, USCIS announced three different accommodations for F-1 international students affected by current agency delays in issuing receipt notices for and processing post-completion OPT applications. These apply to I-765 applications received on or after Oct. 1, 2020, through May 1, 2021, inclusive.
First, USCIS will approve I-765 applications with validity dates reflecting the same amount of time originally recommended on their Form I-20 (up to 12 months), rather than issue EADs for shortened periods of time. For example for a student whose I-20 was approved for OPT starting February 1, 2021 through January 31, 2022, where the actual application is not adjudicated until March 1, the validity dates of the EAD card will be from March 1, 2021 to February 28, 2022. For individuals who do receive or who have received shortened EADs, they may request a corrected EAD from USCIS to cover the full amount of post-completion OPT recommended in their original applications.
Second, USCIS will accept a refiling of a previously rejected I-765 application if 1) the original, timely filed application was received in the time period listed above and ii) USCIS subsequently rejected it.
Finally, where there is a missing or deficient signature on Form I-765, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence to allow a F-1 international student to correct the application rather than denying it.
These accommodations should provide some relief to employers who are waiting to start new employees who graduated in December, as well as those graduating this Spring, by ensuring that these students, and their employers, will be able to maximize the OPT employment period.
Please reach out to your Maggio Kattar contact with any questions.